BMC finds illegal alterations inside Malad school but police doesn't register FIR

Apr 07, 2018, 15:37 IST | Laxman Singh

BMC finds illegal alterations inside Malad school, asks police to register FIR, but it doesn't go beyond a panchnama

BMC had issued a notice to the school regarding the violations in October last year. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
BMC had issued a notice to the school regarding the violations in October last year. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi 

Over four months ago, a rainbow of unauthorised constructions were discovered inside the upscale VIBGYOR high school in Malad East. Despite knowing about the illegal alterations inside the building, which could affect the safety of the students, both the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the police have dragged their feet in registering a case against the institute. The school is located in a four-storey building near Oberoi mall. According to a source, the matter of illegal alterations and additions came to light last year after a complaint was filed in BMC's P-North (Malad) ward.

When the team visited the school, it was shocked to see the students playing inside the basement. The place had a small cricket pitch, skating area and basketball court and was centrally air conditioned
When the team visited the school, it was shocked to see the students playing inside the basement. The place had a small cricket pitch, skating area and basketball court and was centrally air conditioned

Massive violations
After inspection of the school building, the BMC team found massive violations against the approved plans of the building. Following this, they issued notice on October 9, 2017, under section 53 (1) of MRTP (Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning) Act to the school management (mid-day has a copy).

"The school building doesn't have an OC (Occupation Certificate) and has unpaid pending dues of old cases. When the team visited the school, it was shocked to see the students playing inside the basement. The place had a small cricket pitch, skating area and basketball court and was centrally air conditioned. The basement exits were improper too, posing a greater risk with regards to fire safety," the source added. All of these were against the approved plans.

In addition to these, BMC's notice to the school's owner Rustom Kerawalla and Chandan Kelekar, trustee of Empire Foundation under which VIBGYOR is run) stated further violations, "Common area and compulsory open space are encroached with habitable area by constructing rooms on all respective floors. Passengers lifts, car lifts and parking on ground floor are enclosed and merged with habitable area by constructing rooms in contravention of approved plans."

A source from the BMC said, "The school management was given one month's time, but they did nothing to change the violations. Later, the ward officials sent a letter on November 17, 2017, to Kurar police station, asking them to investigate the matter and lodge an FIR against the school." Officials from the ward admitted there was lot of pressure from politicians not to pursue this case. According to an official, after BMC's letter, the cops had initiated a panchnama, but nothing happened after that.

The building and factory department of P-North ward had also sent letters to BMC's education officer, asking them to take action and fire officer of Dindoshi fire brigade highlighting the basement used for sports. The department had told the fire brigade that the safety of the students and staff is an issue and asked them to inspect the site and initiate action.

When mid-day spoke to the station officer of Dindoshi fire brigade, Ravi Pawade, he said, "I don't have any such report (regarding violations) with me. For more details, you can go and file an RTI in our divisional office at Borivli."  When asked about the illegal construction in the basement being risky for fire safety, he said, "We only issue NOC to buildings. Regarding these violations, some other team takes action." Chief fire officer of Mumbai Fire Brigade, P S Rahangdale said, "I will check with concerned officials and if there are any violations, we will take stern action against them." Assistant municipal commissioner of P-North ward, Sanjog Kabre, was not available for comment.

Cops say
Speaking to mid-day, senior police inspector of Kurar police station, Uday Rajshirke said, "We have got the complaint letter from the BMC ward about illegal alterations and additions in VIBGYOR school. As per the procedure, an inspection of the place was recently done along with a BMC officer. Next week, the civic officials will come with the full report of the case, after which the FIR will be filed against the school."

'Allegations are bogus'
Vibgyor's owner Rustom Kerawalla denied any violations and said, "They all are bogus allegations made by people with ulterior motives. That's all, what else can I say? A lot of what you are saying [about violations] doesn't even make sense."

Inputs by Samiullah Khan

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